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Oregon joins western states to oppose plan to charge for U.S. reservoir water

August 26, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. — Attorneys general from a dozen western states, including Oregon, want the Trump administration to halt a proposal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that they say usurps states’ authority over their own water.

The Water Supply Rule proposed in the waning days of the Obama administration could allow the Corps to charge for water drawn from reservoirs it manages, said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who is heading up the multi-state effort.

Attorneys general from Idaho, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming sent a letter to the Trump administration asking to withdraw the proposal, which has lingered for nearly three years.

Stenehjem said Friday he thought the proposal had languished but attorneys general recently learned that it still was being reviewed.

“They have continued with it stubbornly and we are worried these rules could be implemented,” said Stenehjem. “The use and management of water that flows through states always has belonged to states. The Corps is clearly wrong and they need to take it back and undo it.”

The Corps did not immediately respond Friday to telephone calls seeking comment.

The agency, in its request for comments on the proposal in December 2016, said the intent “is to enhance (the Corps’) ability to cooperate with interested parties by facilitating water supply uses of reservoirs in a manner that is consistent with the authorized purposes of those reservoirs, and does not interfere with lawful uses of water under state law or other federal law.”

Stenehjem said the proposed rule has “implications for all states,” and the Corps’ proposal could require “municipal, industrial and domestic users” of water from the reservoirs to “sign a water supply contract and pay the Corps for the water.”

Source: https://www.registerguard.com/news/20190826/oregon-joins-western-states-to-oppose-plan-to-charge-for-us-reservoir-water

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